Blog Tour – The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

Apologies all – this should’ve been up yesterday, but the eye mask I wear to bed to black out light put an eyelash or something in my left eye, rendering it unusable – it just ran tears all day, which made reading impossible. I know, sounds like a ridiculous excuse, doesn’t it? However, it’s worth waiting for, as I have a Q & A with one of the Queens Of Crime, Karin Slaughter. I’d actually started reading her from her very first book, Blindsighted, but was so annoyed when she killed off one of my favourite characters I took a hiatus from reading her books. However, I’ve eased back in with her standalones and can definitely see me catching up with the series at some point.

Anyway, it’s not me you want to hear from, it’s Karin, so here we go…

Slaughter is your real name, a lucky twist of fate or something that may have shaped you as a writer?
I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t decide to write romances! It’s my real name, and I paid a heavy price for it as a kid. I was relentlessly teased in elementary school, and then I moved up to junior high and fortunately there were more important things to worry about. When I first got published, I never understood why people kept asking me if Slaughter was really my last name. I didn’t understand the connection they were making because it had just always been my name. Then, I was in the Piccadilly tube station going up one of those treacherous escalators and I saw this massive sign that said “SLAUGHTER” and I thought, “wow, that’s ominous,” and then I got closer and saw the tiny “Karin” above it and thought, “oohhhhh…”

What was your inspiration for The Good Daughter?
I really enjoyed writing about the sister relationship in Pretty Girls, my last standalone, and I wanted to do something more in that vein. I’m the youngest of three girls, and my parents loved me the most because I was the smartest and prettiest, but an author’s job is to get in the heads of every character they write about.

The point of writing a lot of books is to do something different each time, so when I thought of Charlie and Sam, it was almost in opposition to Claire and Lydia. I wanted Charlie to be a character I haven’t written about before. She’s highly competent, well-liked, and she makes mistakes, sometimes really stupid mistakes, but instead of trying to weasel around them, she owns them. Actually, she almost wears them as a badge of honor. That’s an interesting way to control the bad things that happen, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the best way. Sam, on the other hand, lives every single moment of her life in stark relief to the “what could have been.” She works very hard to define herself as having moved on, but everything she does is in opposition to that goal. Both sisters try to control things in their own way, and both fail in their own way, which is always fascinating to me. You know people by how they respond to adversity.

What does your writing day look like? Where do you write best?

When I’m ready to work on a story, I drive two hours outside of Atlanta to the Blue Ridge mountains, where I have a cabin that my father built for me. I wish I could say that I have a very balanced day when I’m working, but all I do is get up in the morning, start writing, then stop writing when I can’t see or think anymore. Sometimes, that can be 12 or 16 hours (with naps in between) and sometimes that can be four hours (with more naps) but I’ve always been better in isolation. I don’t understand how people can work in coffee shops or, worse, be in the middle of a chapter and just stop. I suppose part of it is my obsessive/compulsiveness. I’m completely incapable of not finishing something I start.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed that – look out for my review, which I’ll put up as soon as I’ve finished it, but from what I’ve read so far it’s non-stop action. Just fantastic!

Interview with Catriona McPherson

Dandy Gilver Blog Tour FINAL

At the moment, I’m reading Dandy Gilver And A Spot Of Toil And Trouble (review to come – but I’m loving it, as I anticipated!) I absolutely adore this series, and I also love Catriona’s one-off psychological thrillers. I urge you to read her as soon as you can if you haven’t yet done so – she’s incredibly witty, and creates wonderful characters and very clever plots. So when asked if I’d like to ask a few questions of one of my favourite authors, how could I refuse? I hope you enjoy my wee Q & A!


The Dandy Gilver books are a homage to Golden Age crime fiction. Are you a big fan of that period of crime writing, and, if so, which authors do you most admire?

Oh, a huge fan! Yes, indeed. The first curtsey has to be to Dame Agatha, of course. I’m pretty fierce about her because she gets sneered at so regularly. People sometimes forget how ground-breaking she was and, now that some of the plots have been often copied (The Moving Finger, anyone?), she doesn’t get the credit she deserves. At least some of it’s pure sexism, I reckon.

But I also love everything Dorothy L Sayers ever did. It was a great honour to be asked to write the introduction to one of the recent Hodder re-issues. And I got exactly the volume I would have chosen too: Striding Folly, the last collection of short stories.

I can’t say I love everything Ngaio Marsh and Michael Innes wrote, but A Surfeit of Lampreys and Appleby’s End are in my top five detective novels of all time.

The one I don’t quite get is Josephine Tey. The Franchise Affair always struck me as snobby in a sort of pinched way (unlike DLS’s glorious snootiness – that’s just funny) and The Daughter of Time is one of those books that everyone else seems to love and I keep quiet because . . . well, I keep quiet.

As well as enjoying your Dandy Gilver series, I’m also a huge fan of your psychological thrillers. Do you have any preference when it comes to writing them? And do you plan to continue writing both for the foreseeable future?

Thank you. I thoroughly enjoy both and they both have highs and lows, to be honest. I come at Dandy knowing some of the characters and knowing I’ve got the voice, but then I need to research some bit of the 30s and try to get it right. The standalones – being contemporary – don’t have that threat of anachronism hanging over them, but each one is a new world I need to kindle from scratch.

All that said, I’ve got no plans to stop either strand.

Personally, one of my favourite aspects of your writing is the quirkiness of your characters – it adds to their authenticity (like the “Hand Of Man”/”Hand Of Woman” – this is part of The Child Garden where the main character, who is a registrar, guesses with her colleague who dressed the babies who are in having their birth registered. It’s very funny.) I also feel you and Denise Mina are the most realistic writers of ordinary working class people, especially women, in Scotland. Does it ever feel difficult to get into that “Scottish voice” when you live in California? Or is it always there, buried in your mind?

Well, that is some high praise there. I adore Denise Mina, especially her characters. I did have someone once ask why I had given a modern character such a desperate life. I didn’t think her life was desperate at all! She had a job in Tesco (as an online-shop picker) and a house and pals.

As to the voice: because I didn’t move to California until I was forty four I think I’m probably going to be okay. And I make a conscious effort not to assimilate linguistically in between trips home every summer. Mind you, I did just have to ask the Facebook hive mind if Scots ever called tracky bums “sweatpants” because I couldn’t remember. Most of the responses came from American friends pledging to call them “tracky bums” from now on.

What have you got on the bedside table at the moment? And is there anything you’ve read recently that really impressed you?

Ha, I love this question. I’m taking my laptop through to my bedroom to catalogue the answer. Okay, the TBR piles (of imminent and current reading (not to be confused with four TBR shelves of maybe one day books) + two I keep by my bed always for comfort + talking books from the library in case of insomnia) left-to-right, top-to-bottom:

Audio book of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Kate Burton
Landscape with Dead Dons Robert Robinson
My Name is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout
The Captain’s Verses Pablo Neruda
A Place Called Winter Patrick Gale
Queen Bees Sian Evans
The Fortunes Peter Ho Davies
The Bone Clocks David Mitchell
A Front Page Affair Radha Vatsal
Aunt Jane McPhipps and her Baby Blue Chips Frances V Rummel
The Other Sister Diane Dixon
Nutshell Ian McEwan
Rather be The Devil Ian Rankin
The Two-Family House Linda Cohen Loigman
All He ever Wanted Anita Shreve
Norah Webster Colm Toibin
Audiobook of A Spool of Blue Thread Anne Tyler

I’m reading the Vatsal right now and enjoying it very much. Recent crime fiction I’ve admired – keeping it to crime fiction for Crimeworm: I read my first Bill Crider novel (there are more than twenty) about Texas sheriff Dan Rhodes. Imagine Alexander McCall Smith writing about a small town in Texas. Marvellous stuff! Also, Deep Water by Christine Poulson was a great treat: a character-driven crime novel that was spot-on about the working of a science lab without the details ever derailing the story. And Ausma Zehannat Khan’s debut, The Unquiet Dead, set in Canada but dealing with the shadow of the break-up of Yugoslavia. It’s a punch to the gut but absolutely spell-binding too.

Thank you so much, Catriona. Can I just ask you what’s next on the agenda, book-wise, after Dandy Gilver And A Spot Of Toil Of Trouble?

Thank you. Today, after I send this interview back, I going to start editing Dandy Gilver No. 13. The working title is Dandy Gilver and The Supposedly Happy Occasion but who knows. Then I’m coming over to launch Toil and Trouble and, later in the summer, a modern book: The Weight of Angels (UK) House.Tree.Person (US). When I get back I’ll edit the modern book I’ve just written (no title yet) and collapse on the couch for Christmas.

Well, there’s plenty of books to add to the TBR pile there! I’m actually going to be reading The Unquiet Dead very soon, but many of the rest are new to me!

I’d like to thank the lovely Jenni at Hodder and Stoughton for giving me the opportunity to question Catriona, and of course Catriona herself for answering them. And look out for my review of Toil And Trouble coming up shortly!

Blog Tour – The Killer – Susan Wilkins

BLURB: A glossy and gripping crime thriller about survival and vengeance, it puts the pedal to the metal as it hurtles through contemporary London, from the glass towers of the super-rich to the down and dirty backstreets of organized crime and blackmail.

She was a woman, so they thought she’d be easy to kill . . .

Kaz Phelps is on the run – from the past, from the legacy of her criminal family, from the haunting memories of her murdered lover. The police want her back in jail and her enemies want her dead. While standing by the grave of her gangster brother, Kaz realizes she only has one option. To fight back.

Nicci Armstrong was one of the Met’s best detectives until personal tragedy forced her to quit. Now she’s responsible for the security of the super-rich who use her city as a playground. She is one of the few people Kaz might trust. But Nicci’s biggest mistake yet is falling in love with a man she knows is only using her.

Meanwhile, as envious rivals back home plot against him, a Russian billionaire searches for a special gift to keep the Kremlin onside, a disgraced politician dreams of revenge and a Turkish drug baron plots to purge his dishonour with blood.

I was sort of disappointed that I’d somehow missed the first two Kaz Phelps novel not long after I started this (okay, dead giveaway, I enjoyed it.) It was only when I saw their covers I realised why – they were designed in that Marina Cole/Roberta Kray-fashion, and, to be entirely honest, they aren’t really my taste. (Although I would recommend Anna Smith’s Rosie Gilmour series, about a reporter, although my weakness for those may be because they’re set mainly in Glasgow…)

Anyway, my bad, because book 3 is a belter – which suggests 1 and 2 were as well. It begins with a shooting at a funeral, and the action doesn’t let up from there.

Now it isn’t essential to have read books 1 and 2, but it’d definitely help put things in clearer context. For example, we’re made aware that Kaz wants revenge for the death of her lover, Helen. But I’d love to know the full details of her death. There are other bits I’m also desperate to learn more about – Wilkins tells us enough so we can understand the plot, but curious enough to hopefully investigate the earlier books – a smart move, marketing-wise.

Post-funeral, Kaz Phelps ends up on the run. However, she’s fortunate enough to run into her late brother Joey’s business partner (and an early boyfriend), Paul Ackroyd. He claims he’s only wanting to help an old friend in need, but she’s aware that Joey had money –serious money – hidden away. And she knows when it comes to these sorts of amounts, she can trust absolutely no-one. No-one, that is, apart from ex-copper, now private security operative, Nicci Armstrong. But she was brought up with it drummed into her that coppers are the enemy – retired or not. She has some tough decisions to make…

As for the remaining members of the Phelps family, there’s the flaky mother, Ellie, Aunt Glynis, and Kaz’s sister, Natalie, who now has a son, Finlay. Natalie has had life deal her a pretty shitty hand, despite all the family’s money, and she’d rebelled by getting involved pretty deeply in the drug scene. But she’s clean now, determined to be a good mum…and there’s a big surprise in store for Kaz when she learns who Finlay’s father is.

Wilkins seems to know every level of London life exceptionally well – from the council estates, to the luxury Belgravia mansions, mostly owned by foreigners. From drug dealers all the way to MPs, she’s spins a convincing and hard-to-put-down tale. She also, when I compare her information with other nonfiction books I’ve read, has a good understanding of how the drugs business, money laundering, and the firearms business operate.

In total, it makes for a really enjoyable and compelling thriller, with Kaz left in a quandary over who she can and can’t trust. Joey may have had the brawn, but look where that’s left him? She definitely has the brains. She just needs to use them to make the right choices…but will she?

#Northern #Crime (, who’s a wonderful blogger and great friend – she started blogging at roughly the same time as me – did a cracking trio of reviews of all these novels, if you fancy a second opinion. In my humble opinion, the writing’s quite a bit superior to the majority of these “gangland” novels, and lumping Susan Wilkins in with them, with the similar covers, is doing her a disservice. This may be gritty, but it’s also intelligent, compelling, and would make a perfect holiday read. I intend to read the first two, and I’ll most definitely be looking out for what Susan Wilkins does next.

Highly recommended.

With thanks to MacMillan books for the review copy, and this impartial review is my thanks to them.

The Girlfriend – Michelle Frances

BLURB: A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she’ll wish she’d never told.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances is a gripping and chilling debut psychological thriller, based on the fall-out following an unforgiveable lie. It looks at the potentially charged relationship between girlfriend, boyfriend and his mother, which most women can identify with, and locates it in an extreme but believable setting.

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems.

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.

I absolutely rattled through this domestic noir thriller, which, initially, keeps you guessing as to which of the women in Daniel’s life are being unreasonable. Isn’t Cherry just ambitious, and what’s wrong with that nowadays? Isn’t Laura just a bit, well, clingy, considering her son’s in his mid-20s? These two mega-alpha women are caught in a battle of wills over Daniel, and very quickly they can’t see eye to eye at all – and so poor Daniel, in order to keep his new girlfriend happy, also decides he is unable to see his mother, as the things she’s saying about Cherry are unconscionable. His mother is too clingy. And perhaps she is, simply because she’s stuck with Howard, who’s a good father, in what for years is a loveless marriage. She even knows who her husband’s long-term lover is, but is frightened to broach the subject, fearing she will be left alone if he’s forced to choose, rattling around a huge Kensington mansion (with an underground swimming pool!) Unlike Cherry, she knows money doesn’t automatically buy you happiness. For Cherry, having money means another step further away from her upbringing.

However, the more we learn about Cherry, the more we swing towards agreeing with Laura’s analysis. Then there’s a shocking accident, a lie is told, and – inevitably – everything, eventually, unravels from there.

I’m not going to reveal any more, as this is when the novel really gets gripping, and things get really nasty…I’ve read the odd blogger write that they aren’t fond of nasty characters, but, I’m sorry, I much prefer a nasty character, particularly a female one – they’re invariably far more interesting and have more depth to them than your average nice person. (This doesn’t make me a psychopath does it?!) And – important point for us bookworms – they give great book.

The two women are very much the main characters, which, I felt, left Daniel slightly as a third wheel, although the book wouldn’t really work otherwise. He’s a bit of a sap, to be honest – not the brightest; God knows how he ever got into Cambridge to study medicine!

Cherry aspires to a better life as she grew up in a poor area of Croydon, and seems completely oblivious – and ungrateful – that her mother worked every hour she could in a supermarket to keep her clothed and fed. (Her mother, Wendy, was, unfortunately, a bit of a working-class cliché – watching trashy TV or DVDs, while eating chocolates, and, naturally, not nearly as chic and glamorous and well-groomed as middle-class TV production company owner, Laura.)

From the point of the accident, if I was gulping down chunks of the book previously, afterwards I was glued to it. It was absolutely unputdownable, and most definitely one of the best domestic-noir thrillers I’ll read this year. If you’ve still a weakness for the genre – and aren’t absolutely scunnered with it yet – then I cannot recommend this highly enough, as a fresh take on a family imploding. I think the last book that kept me up so late/early was The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (whose new novel is high on my TBR pile…OK, mountain…!)

I simply cannot wait to see what Michelle Frances comes up with next!

At time of writing, this book is only 98p on Kindle – mega-bargain!

Don’t miss it!

I would like to thank NetGalley and Pan Books for giving me an ARC of this novel. This unbiased review is my thanks.

Amber Green Takes Manhattan – Rosie Nixon


BLURB: When her TV producer boyfriend Rob announces that he’s been offered a job in New York, filming with the infamous Angel Wear lingerie models, Amber knows its her perfect chance to take the New York fashion world by storm.

But Amber wasn’t counting on unruly toddler photo shoots, clandestine designer handbag scams and a Hollywood star who is determined to wear as little as possible on the red carpet. Until she meets a disgraced former designer who could turn her career around…or leave it all in tatters.

Fun, adventure, glamour and high-fashion make this is the perfect feel good women’s fiction read.

So, yes, shocker! Crimeworm has decided to take a break from all the murder-and-mayhem and relax into the enjoyable fun provided by Amber Green Takes Manhattan, follow-up to the highly successful The Stylist. Rosie Nixon, the author, is editor-in-chief at Hello! magazine (the sort of thing I like to find in the dentist. Or hairdresser’s.) Anyway, it’s pretty clear Rosie’s talents are wasted at the magazine and it’s sycophantic interviews with Spanish princesses, etc, as she’s a natural author of chick-lit.

Regular readers will know this isn’t a genre I read often, so I was somewhat dubious reviewing this book – I mean, what do I know about chick-lit? But really, all it had to do was keep me engrossed and turning the pages, and, boy! It certainly does that! I’m quite fond of fashion (handbags are my weakness; I don’t think many designers produce clothes that would fit my quarterback-style shoulders. A farmer’s daughter, indeed.) And it was the fashion aspect of the novel that persuaded me to read and review it for the Blog Tour.

This is the perfect time to release this kind of novel – it screams “beach read” (I’m not denigrating it: far from it; these books are hugely successful!) The storyline basically consists of Amber Green getting in lots of fashion-related scrapes, and escaping them with the help of hunky cameraman boyfriend Rob (with whom she moves to New York in the hope of getting some styling work), and best friend Vicky, who arrives for a break from her workaholic Hollywood director boyfriend Trey. A few serendipitous meetings, and Amber’s career looks like it’s heading in the right direction. Well, sort of…if you don’t count the shoot involving toddlers let loose in luxury Manhattan apartment, or the wild child client, with the sleazy manager, who thinks au naturale (or as close to it as possible) is this season’s look.

If you like the occasional lighter read, and enjoy fashion and celebrity-related stuff, then this book is the perfect holiday read for you. Slip it into your suitcase – or download it to your Kindle, and enjoy it by the pool, or on the beach, preferably accompanied by a very large pina colada – and a male model to rub the sun cream in. (We can dream, can’t we??!)

Highly recommended.

This book was provided to me by the publishers HQ in exchange for an honest review.